Where Do I Begin My Research?

Once you have introduced the SMG program to your students, they will be eager to enter their first stock transactions. There are many different strategies to help students begin to build their portfolios. Investment guru, Peter Lynch, tells a middle school class to "Buy what you know," in his Stock Market Adventure video. This video is available from your Stock Market Game coordinator.

Start Your Research With A Company

Some teachers prefer their students to begin their research by looking into a specific company. To get students started thinking about what they already know, you might try these activities:

  1. In Peter Lynch’s Stock Market Adventure video, the students take a trip to their local mall and find out what the "hot" sellers are. The students visit a variety of stores and see a variety of products. Ask your students to name stores they are familiar with and the products and services the stores provide. List the names of companies that sell these products.

  1. Ask your students to bring in a product or the product’s label. In class, you will explore where the product was bought, who makes the product, and possibly other products the company produces.

  1. Check magazine ads where you will find the parent company in the fine print.

  1. Read the following short story about Jim's Birthday Present. Ask your students to start a list of companies based on this activity.

As your students research companies, they will come across companies that are not listed on the three major stock exchanges (the American Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Stock Market, and the New York Stock Exchange). This may be because the companies are privately-owned or foreign-owned and not listed on the exchange, or that the producing company is not the parent company but a subsidiary company; or the product may be a brand name.

For example, students may want to buy "Taco Bell" but can't find its ticker symbol (the one to five character set stock exchanges use to identify companies). This is because Taco Bell's parent company is YUM! Brands, Inc. To purchase Taco Bell stock, they would need to find the ticker symbol for YUM! Brands, Inc. which just so happens to be YUM. YUM! Brands is also the parent company for KFC, Pizza Hut, A&W, and Long John Silvers.

Tips for Finding Parent Companies

The product itself will always include in small print the name of the parent company.

Magazine ads often carry (in small print) the name of the company that produces the product.

Typing in the name of the product into an Internet search engine like Yahoo! or Google will often list related Web sites including the parent company’s Web site. Company and financial reporting sites like www.hoovers.com may also include information about a product’s parent company. Selecting ticker lookup at the homepages of any of the exchanges might also yield parent company information. The product’s web site usually provides investor information about its parent company.

Start Your Research With an Industry

Some teachers prefer to have their students begin their research by looking into different industries. An industry is a category used to organize companies into types of services and/or products provided. Try these activities for introducing your students to industry research:

  1. Have students choose several industries (restaurants, banking, oil, telecommunications, etc.) to analyze. Based on students' familiarity with companies in the industries and their perceptions of the industry's outlook: Is the industry profitable? Will it continue to be? What factors will affect the industry's prospects?

    This is also an excellent way to teach students about diversification within a portfolio.

  1. Check out a financial web site that lists industries and news about companies in each industry. Select the link "Industries" or "Industry Research." (E.g., http://www.hoovers.com,

Use the following worksheet for researching companies within various industries:
Sector/Industry Research Worksheet